Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Do Leaders Compromise?

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The stereotypical image of true leaders is that they will not compromise. This is true in one major category. They will not compromise their values.

All prominent leaders are human and must deal pragmatically within the circumstances that they have been situated. They make deals and offer compromises to achieve their overall goals, but they draw a line that they will not cross. They remain true to who they are as reflected by their personal values.

It should be noted that personal values are subjective and not objective. They are not always inherently good. Values are reflective of the culture that leaders are raised within. They are placed within the context of their times. Thus judgments placed upon various leaders must be placed in the proper context and cannot be made through the lens of contemporary society.

Prominent American historical leaders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson accepted slavery as a reflection of acceptable cultural norms of the times. Does their value as effective leaders diminish because of this context? Viewed through the contemporary lens, one would say yes. Yet, neither is viewed as inherently evil individuals, nor ineffective leaders.

Another example, not within my research population, but who is an excellent example is Adolph Hitler. His values were evil and he remained true to them to the moment of his suicide. His values were shaped and distorted by his culture and experiences. They shaped him and impacted world history. He never compromised on them.

The point of this post is that leaders are generally pragmatic and will make compromises to achieve their goals, but will always remain true to themselves.

If you would like to learn more about the pragmatism of the great American leaders, through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2009 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

December 15, 2009 at 6:00 am

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